State Street Triangle (Trebloc Building Site)

29 04 2015

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Downtown Ithaca could be in for a very large addition in the next couple of years, if developer Campus Advantage has its way.

The Texas-based developer is planning an 11-story addition to downtown on the the Trebloc Building property at 301 East State Street/MLK Jr. Street. The building would reach the maximum of the 120-foot zoning allows on the property, and fill up nearly the whole plot of land bounded by East State, South Aurora and East Green Streets.state_st_triangle_1

In the initial sketch plan presented Tuesday night (link here), local architect Scott Whitham, a consultant for the project, showed floor plans for retail on the first floor of the proposed tower, with apartments on the floors above. The retail section includes five general retail spaces and one restaurant space, with sizes ranging from 1,800-2,300 sq ft each. Space for a fitness center and apartment amenities are also included on the first floor.

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Upper floors look out into an interior courtyard on the second floor, and contain a variety of 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 4 bedroom units. Each floor would contain about 23 units per floor with 60 bedrooms. Over ten floors, that means that the State Street Triangle building would add 230 units of student-oriented apartments, with 600 bedrooms.

For perspective’s sake, that would make it one of the most populated buildings in the city. Cornell’s largest dorm, Clara Dickson Hall, tops out at around 460 students. The Towers of Ithaca College hold about 300 students each. Collegetown Terrace has the only private buildings that come close to having this many people in one building.state_st_triangle_4

There is no parking on the site. The city’s Central Business District (CBD) zoning does not require it. The CBD zoning allows for nearly full lot coverage as well. The CBD zoning is used only for what planners and officials want to be the densest downtown locations, where parking garages and mass transit are in easy access.

This skyline-altering project stands to have a very large impact on downtown and the city in general. It would be the first student-focused development in the downtown Ithaca area, and 600 students is certainly quite the addition. The project stands to capitalize on both Cornell students and IC students, since the project is within commuting distance of both schools.

There’s much to be debated and sorted out moving forward. More detailed site plans and features are expected to be delivered to the city sometime in May. This summer will be a very exciting one for the Ithaca Planning Board.


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9 responses

29 04 2015
CS PhD

This is excellent. I hope something like this gets approved and built as soon as possible. Anything is better than the Trebloc Building (I’ve always wondered what a useless turd like that was doing wasting valuable downtown real estate), and filling the space to capacity with apartments may actually make a dent in the ridiculous housing crunch.

29 04 2015
Cornell PhD

I’m glad this project is happening, but there’s a ton of room for improvement here.

“Anything is better than the Trebloc building” sure, but this is kind of a little hideous. Can we get some color-coordination for this architecture? Maybe some acknowledgement from the developer that this will be one of the taller buildings in the city, and that some kind of crown/taper would look better than a site-maximizing slab?

I wonder if larger retail space might be a good idea as well. This is an opportunity for some anchor tenant space that might draw shoppers downtown to browse the already very many small, independent stores.

And what about the Green Street facade? I get that this isn’t the most appealing stretch of street right now, but the design seems to remove any chance of it slowly reviving as a retail street rather than retaining its current character as a landscaped onramp.

29 04 2015
Ex-Ithacan

I know the replies at the Voice facebook page are not welcoming this with open arms, but I believe this could be a game changer for the downtown area. I agree with Cornell PhD about the building needing a statement feature. Maybe a rooftop statue of a stainless waterfall (take that Marriott…..lol). I suppose the city might even issue a variance for such a gem.

The retail is a good idea. Too bad there’s not enough room for a decent small market. I suppose a mini-mart would suffice for the students, but fresh fruit and veggies would be nice.

It’s not an ugly design, but it’s not exciting either. I wonder if they would go with something like this:

[img]https://brancra.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/330_college.png?w=510&h=357[/img]

Just a thought.

30 04 2015
B. C.

You know, I’m inclined to agree. When 330 College was first presented, I thought it’d be a great project if adapted for the Trebloc site. Jagat Sharma and his staff haven’t had much work outside of Collegetown lately.

30 04 2015
Cornell PhD

330 College is a great design for its site, but I think the problem with both of these for the State St. Triangle is that they’d be seen as overshadowing the smaller structures across the street.

I think the way to go here would have actually been a 4-7 story structure mirroring the buildings across State St. on that side, with a slightly taller tower portion (maybe obtained via a zoning variance?) along Green St. That would add the same amount of density without being as architecturally confrontational. I really doubt the city is going to go for a block long, 11 story cliff face here…

30 04 2015
B. C.

Also a good idea, Cornell PhD. The issue would be justifying the zoning variance. A stepped building mass could do the trick, for the reasons you stated. The planning board is cautiously enthusiastic about the project concept, and the BZA often sides with the Planning Board’s suggestions when issuing judgements.

4 05 2015
SCD

I agree that the mass is awfully big – looks like the Fhloston Paradise cruiser from the Fifth Element. But since the space is already zoned for 120′, do the BZA or the planning board have any leverage to induce a reduction? I’m also guessing that the builders need every unit to mitigate rents – just imagine how the pitchforks and torches will come out if rents on this property look like the loftsatsixmilecreek project?

5 05 2015
Cornell PhD

At the planning stage, cities worry residents will get upset at height levels, so set them relatively low. Then developers come along and propose ugly boxes that fill up all the space permitted, and people only realize in retrospect that 150′ instead of 120, with setback requirements, would have been better. Of course, you’d think this would be fixable at design review stage, with a zoning variance or something, but the obsessive concern with low heights *on principle* almost still almost always winds up producing an even squatter box. This happens everywhere.

18 06 2015
Seven Years Later | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] HQ, 210 Hancock, 215-221 W. Spencer, and a Texas Roadhouse. Oh, and let’s not forget State Street Triangle, which will probably be a lightning rod of attention as it goes through the review […]

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